This week, #gtchat continued our series on acceleration and the new report A Nation Empowered with guest Dr. Ann Shoplik, administrator of The Acceleration Institute and co-editor of the report. Our topic of discussion was How to Advocate for Acceleration at Your School addressing both the needs of parents and teachers.
We first asked, “What factors should be considered when contemplating acceleration?” Dr. Shoplik suggested, “Academic achievement, ability, and aptitude; school and academic factors such as attendance, motivation, and attitude toward learning. Also, developmental factors such as physical size, small & large motor coordination as well as interpersonal skills, relationships with peers and teachers, outside-of-school activities. How important are athletics to student/family?” In addition, “Student and parent attitude toward acceleration; the school system’s attitude and support; plus planning for the future: what’s available?”
How do you begin to advocate for acceleration for a particular child? Any advocacy effort needs to begin with a good plan and fact-finding about available options. Lisa Van Gemert, Youth and Education Ambassador for Mensa, told us, “I like to start the conversation with teachers in this way, “We’re noticing this. What are you noticing?” Dr. Shoplik’s advice was to “begin at the source. Talk to teacher, gifted coordinator, and principal. Ask for help devising a challenging curriculum and program. Enlist the principal’s help. However, [remember that] many haven’t had opportunity to study acceleration in college.”
Carol Bainbridge, gifted expert at About.com, then asked, “What do you do when those beginning moves don’t work? I’ve had many parents ask that question.” Dr. Shoplik recommended, “Take a “We’re on the same team” approach. Focus on what’s best for child: Proper placement and challenge. Use available tools: Iowa Acceleration Scale, A Nation Empowered. Share research.”
Advocating as a parent often requires a different approach than that of a teacher considering accelerating their students. “Share research with other parents, start a parent group for gifted. Many voices saying the same thing is helpful! Support local teachers and gifted coordinators who are advocating for your child. Work with your state gifted organization.Making policy changes is a long slow process. Focus on your child and what is best for then,” said Dr. Shoplik. Also, it important to “know the lingo”. Educators respond better if you talk their language! Karen Ryan, gifted specialist, added, “Follow up with the plan and talk with your child to be sure their needs are being met; they are making progress towards their goals.”
Dr. Shoplik recommended, “Take a “We’re on the same team” approach. Focus on what’s best for child: Proper placement and challenge.
When advocating for policy change within a school district as a teacher, Dr. Shoplik explained, “Learn the facts. Study the research. Understand the available resources. Use local schools as examples as you advocate in your school. Combine forces, share information with other local districts. Connect with your state gifted organization. Know your state’s acceleration policy and work to improve it, if needed. Find an advocate in the system. Are nearby districts accelerating? School boards like to keep up with neighbors!” A full transcript can be found at Storify.
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Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by GiftedandTalented.com is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Dr. Ann Shoplik.